Relationship intelligence

Relationship Intelligence software lets organizations understand the strength of relationships that each team member has with the people and organizations that matter.

What is relationship intelligence?

Relationship Intelligence is one of the hottest topics in sales today.  We all know that sales comes down to trust, connection, and empathy; all aspects of relationships. However, it has historically been hard to quantify relationships. Our core sales systems, like CRM systems, don’t have a way to measure the strength of a relationship, and barely manage to have teams log raw activity.  

Core sales systems don’t suffice and nor do social networks. Social networks like LinkedIn show a tangled web of connections where it seems that everyone is “connected” to everyone else, but as soon as you ask, you discover that the connection is from 8 years ago, and they have no idea who that person is.

True relationship intelligence

True relationship intelligence relies on having instant access to accurate intelligence on real relationships where there is trust and familiarity. This intelligence needs to start from an objective measurement of relationship strength; relationship measurement should analyze how well two people are likely to know each other based on their full history together. This measurement needs to reflect the fact that true relationships are built across multiple jobs and involve many types of communication like emails, meetings, calls, and social interactions.  Most importantly, this measurement needs to account for the fact that relationships decay if left unattended.

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Why is Relationship Intelligence Crucial in Today’s Sales Environment?

The era of the aggressive, spammy, outbound sales approach is clearly coming to a welcome end.  Response rates are plummeting, buyers are growing increasingly frustrated, and tricks and gimmicks are losing any of their initial effectiveness.  In its place, sales remains to be built on a combination of two things; a great solution that you’re selling, and strong relationships with buyers that allow the right conversations to take place.

The opportunity and the challenge that stems from this is that relationships are hard to build and maintain, and therefore rare.  The organizations that are able to help their team build and maintain the right relationships, will have much more to draw from when it comes to selling.  Even more crucially, the organizations that are able to allow each of their sales teams to discover and leverage the relationships that matter will be the organizations that thrive and outsell their competitors.

How are the best organizations using relationship intelligence software?

Awareness of every meaningful relationship that your organization has sounds like a great concept, but using that knowledge effectively is a science unto itself.  Relationships within an organization differ across groups, and the best sales professionals use this to their advantage:

Service Organization Often a service or customer success organization will have tremendously deep relationships with practitioners and mid level managers.  As those people change jobs they are very likely to show up at accounts that you are now trying to sell into. Knowing of the existence of these relationships is hugely valuable as they are often very willing to provide insights and coaching if asked by the person on your services team who knows them best.

Executives If your organization has executives or founders who are well known industry personalities, they will often have hundreds of relationships with execs and many of the target accounts you are hoping to access.  Often, a simple name-drop opens doors, if your sales team is able to say “our founder knows your CMO”, and is confident, based on the relationship strength, that the CMO would confirm the relationship.

Connectors Your board of directors, board of advisors, customer advisory board, service partners, advocates and champions are often highly connected in the broader industry. These connectors can have ties to companies far beyond the reach of your core team. Selectively turning to them for introductions at key accounts can make a huge difference in your access to new deals at accounts you would have struggled to get into.

Managing relationships

If your organization is able to track relationship strength across all your interactions, and use relationship intelligence to understand the dynamic of trust between your buyers and your team, you have an opportunity to significantly improve your ability to manage your team’s performance.  

Typical sales management approaches rely on a combination of raw activity and funnel metrics.  Raw activity such as emails and voicemails sent, does not provide any measure of relationships being developed.  Funnel measurements, at the other end of the spectrum, are often too late and are a lagging indicator of your team’s success in building relationships and any opportunity to improve their effectiveness.

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Understand pipeline

With relationship intelligence in place, it’s easy to look at deals in pipeline and understand, for each deal, whether you are single-threaded with a low-level decision maker.  Any account that you don’t have the right organizational roles at the table, and strong relationships with senior decision makers in each of those roles is an account worth digging deeper on to understand if there’s a way to improve the chance of closing the deal.